It was in the afternoon of April 2010 that a young girl accomapnied by a burly smart guy was waiting outside my office. I remained preoccupied due to Audit work which follows evey year in Banks after annual closing at the end of a particular financial year. Attending to the queries of a team of auditors on the job, I looked up momentrily to find this girl sitting in the waiting area. Normally, any visitor is taken care of by the team of executives working in the Banking Hall but the girl looked restless and eager to get up and enter my cabin.
Sensing the urgency, I could see the girl reluctantly knocking and seeking permissiion to enter my cabin. Immediately excusing myself from the Audit team,I welcomed the visitors “Tell me! How can I help you” as I prompted her to intiiate the discussion. She was looking for an education loan from our Bank as no other Bank was entertaining her application for the unexplained reasons. As I dwelled deeper for the information, I found the guy more proactive and kept providing with half known facts which irritated me. “Please don’t interupt and let her come up with the reply”I had to rebuke him sternly with instructions to keep silent otherwise move out.
As she started narrating her stories, I got milder and more concerned about the genuine cause of her further studies. The guy was her fiancee and her father was an Auto driver. She was reluctant and not comfortable telling me about the status of her family particularly the profession of her father.However my efforts to make her comfortable and feel at ease attitude, could extract the whole information after interviewing her for about 30 minutes.
It was heartening to note that she was funding even her school education by doing some tuition work in the late evenings. She was very humble, honest having clear vision about her perceptions
More and more she unwinded the story, she looked relaxed and hopeful about her future education. She wanted to pursue her degree in Fine Arts but most of the Banks try to finance education loans to the potential Enginerers,Doctors and other high tech professionals for the only reason that their prospectus of getting good jobs in the country or overseas are better than those pursuing their careers in other verticals.
It indeed was a wrong notion of keeping their accounts safe for recovery. My experience in the Banking Industry believed in prompt and quick disposal of loan requests with a human face. A satisfied customer will always pay back the installments of loan regularly even if he/she is not sufficiently paid by the employer.
She was carrying documents about the ranking she got in the Entrance Exams, a provisional admission letter from the institute, evidence of her family income and academic record. She was a topper through out her schooling. After corrobrating her statements with the record, I was impressed and convinced about genuinenes of the case.
The decision was yet to be made as hierchy down the line, Loans officer responsible for compliling the proposal and recommending it for final approval needed to be discussed. But the smile on her face and satisfaction seen through her eyes spoke of the relief she was feeling after being heard with intense concentration and compassion. Advising them to sit and wait outside for a while, I took time to discuss the story with my staff who despite showing a few reservations agreed: though with an element of surprise!!
Although stuck up with the audit work which needed priority attention, she was advised to come back with the required information in a weeks time. In education loans, co-obligants are the parents as no tangible security could be insisted upon as per the prevailing guidlines. The Loan documents needed to be signed by her father as well. The designated day turned out to be saturday giving us just a few hours of working those days. The time slot was alloted to bring her father on saturday after she showed her reluctance due to peak hours of her father working on the weekdays.
Documentation and release of the initial instalment of the sanctioned loan amount took an hour or so. The girl with a cheque of 100,000/- in her hand wore an unbelievable benevolent smile on her face as if showing a trophy on winning the final race of her life.
The family looked very down to earth and obliged for prompt disbursement of Loan amount to the girl.
I am not writing this story to sing my own praises for this particular case but this was a routine during the entire length of my Banking career spanning over more than 35 years. I was never confronted with bad debts due to non recovery of Loan installments. This satisfaction goes on filling my heart with a sense of pride for doing my duty with purpose and empathy towards the deserving class of the society.
Dear readers, I would love to have your observations telling me what more should have been done. Kudos to the girl and her confidence for the efforts to find a way to continue her pusruit for higher education. My entire unit did a commendable job by going beyond the traditional barriers of not entertaining any fresh loans proposal during the audit work..
Happy reading and have a blessed day!!